Firefighters vote to support PREPA workers in dispute over LUMA contract

By John McPhaul

The United Firefighters Union of Puerto Rico approved in a special assembly in Isabela earlier this week a resolution to support and be in solidarity with the employees of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) affected by the contract granted by the island government to LUMA Energy LLC to manage the transmission and distribution of energy for PREPA, said José Tirado, president of the union.

The resolution demands that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and the Puerto Rico Legislature terminate, amend or renegotiate the LUMA Energy contract to secure and retain jobs in PREPA, the rights acquired for decades by the workers, and the permanence of the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER by its Spanish acronym).

“UTIER is made up of those men and women, who we must not forget, who have contributed in a sustainable way to the industrial and social development of Puerto Ricans, who have been present risking their lives, climbing on poles and ladders, and [suspended from] helicopters at great heights to bring electric power to every corner of our beloved Puerto Rico,” reads the unanimously approved resolution.

Tirado noted that “the government has the responsibility to safeguard and protect all these workers, their employment, their rights and achievements, since they have served our people well and with much sacrifice.”

“Our call to the government is to watch over our public servants and not to throw away all the sacrifices that PREPA workers have made to our people in difficult times,” he said.

“Given the proximity of International Workers Day, which is commemorated on May 1st, we urge the governor and the Legislature to agree to defend what is ours above the big interests and bad experiments,” the union leader added. “Let us not forget that LUMA Energy is a company [that was created] to make money and we Puerto Ricans have demonstrated that we have the capacity, experience and strength to move forward even in the face of catastrophes of great magnitude such as hurricanes, earthquakes and pandemics.”

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